Mahayana Mahaparinirvana Sutra
The Mahāyāna Mahāparinirvāṇa Sūtra is one of the major sutras of Mahāyāna Buddhism. Its main teachings centre on the eternity of the Buddha, the reality of the True Self, and the presence of the Buddha-dhatu (Buddha Nature) in all beings. Simple name: Nirvāṇa Sūtra....
Chapter XXVIII - On Bodhisattva Highly-Virtuous King (b)
Bodhisattva-mahasattva All-Shining Highly-Virtuous King said to the Buddha: "If those who have performed the grave offences, those who have slandered the vaipulya sutras, those who have committed the five deadly sins, and the icchantika [all] have the Buddha-Nature, why then do they fall into hell? O World-Honoured One! If they have the Buddha-Nature, why do we say that there is no Eternal, Bliss, Self, and Purity [with them]? O World-Honoured One! If one who has cut off the root of good is an icchantika, why is it that, when cutting off the root of good, the root of the Buddha-Nature is not cut off? If the Buddha-Nature is cut off, how can we talk of the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure? If there is no such cutting off, why do we speak of the “icchantika”? O World-Honoured One! Those who have committed the four grave offences are called persons not fixed. Those slanderers of the vaipulya sutras, those who have committed the five deadly sins, and the icchantika are termed those who are not fixed. If such as these are to become fixed, how can they attain unsurpassed Enlightenment? Even those who have attained such stages as srotapanna up to pratyekabuddha are likewise called persons not fixed. Even if those who are at the stages of srotapanna up to pratyekabuddha can indeed become fixed, they can never attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. O World-Honoured One! If those persons who have committed the four grave offences are those not fixed, those of the stages of srotapanna up to pratyekabuddha are also those not fixed. If they are to be called non-fixed, the All-Buddha-Tathagata must also be non-fixed. If the Buddha is one not fixed, the body and nature of Nirvana, too, must be called not-fixed. Even all laws [dharmas?], too, must be called not-fixed. Why not-fixed? When the icchantika makes away with the icchantika [within], he can attain Bodhi [Enlightenment]. The same must be the case with all Buddhas. Even though entering Nirvana, they might come back and not enter Nirvana. If things proceed thus, we can say that the nature of Nirvana is not fixed. Not being fixed, there can never be the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure. How can we say that the icchantika and others can reach Nirvana?"
Then the World-Honoured One said to Bodhisattva-mahasattva All-Shining Highly-Virtuous King: "Well said, well said! To benefit and give peace to innumerable beings, to pity all the world, to augment the practice of the Way of all Bodhisattvas who aspire to Bodhi, you put these questions. O good man! You have, in your past, already drawn near to an innumerable number of all Buddhas and have cultivated, at the places of all Buddhas, all good deeds. You have long accomplished the virtue of Bodhi, subdued and driven away all Maras. You have already taught innumerable beings and enabled them to attain unsurpassed Bodhi. You have for a long time fathomed the very deep and closely-guarded store of Dharma of the All-Buddha-Tathagata, and you have put such questions to all the Buddha-Tathagatas of the past as many as the sands of innumerable and boundless Ganges. I have never until now met any human, god, sramana, Brahmin, Mara, or Brahma who has put such questions to the Tathagata. Now, listen carefully, listen carefully. I shall now explain clearly.
"O good man! The icchantika is not fixed. If fixed, he could not gain unsurpassed Enlightenment. As he is not yet fixed, he can indeed gain it.
"You say that unless he has cut off the Buddha-Nature, how could an icchantika cut off the root of all good?
"O good man! There are two kinds of root of good. One is internal, and the other external. The Buddha-Nature is neither internal nor external. Because of this, there is no cutting off of the Buddha-Nature. Also, there are two kinds. One is defiled, and the other undefiled. The Buddha-Nature is neither defiled nor non-defiled. Because of this, there is no cutting off. Also, there are two kinds. One is eternal, and the other is non-eternal. The Buddha-Nature is neither eternal nor non-eternal. Because of this, there is no cutting off. If cut, it will come back again and be gained again. If it comes back and cannot be gained, this is non-cutting. If what is gained is cut off, this is an icchantika. A person who performs the four grave offences is also one not fixed. If fixed, one who has performed the four grave offences could not gain unsurpassed Bodhi. One who slanders the vaipulya is also not fixed. If fixed, the slanderer could not attain unsurpassed Bodhi. One who has committed the five deadly sins is also not fixed. If fixed, such a one would not be able to attain unsurpassed Bodhi. Matter and the characteristics of matter, too, are both not fixed. The characteristics of smell, taste, touch, those of birth, up to those of ignorance, those of the five skandhas, the 12 spheres and 18 realms [of sensory experience], those of the 25 existences, the four lives, even down to all existences, are not fixed either. O good man! For example, a conjuror can present to the eyes of the people the four military forces of infantry, chariots, elephants, and horses; he conjures up all kinds of garlands, body adornments, castle-towns, villages, mountains, forests, trees, springs, ponds, rivers and wells. Of the onlookers, the little children who have not much intellect will think that all these are real, but those of intelligence will know that all is sheer untrue illusory allure, which cheats a person's eyes. O good man! It is the same with all common mortals up to sravakas and pratyekabuddhas, who think that there are fixed states in all things. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do not see any fixed state in any thing. O good man! For example, it is as with children who, in the mid-summer months, see a mirage of hot times and say that it is water, whereas one with discernment will never entertain in this mirage any thought of water, knowing that this is nothing but a mirage that cheats men's eyes and that it is not water. The same is the case with all beings, sravakas and pratyekabuddhas, who see all things and say that they are all real. All Buddhas and Bodhisattvas do not see any fixed state in anything. O good man! For example, in the mountain valleys, the human voice generates an echo. A child hears this and says this is an actual voice, whereas one with intelligence will say that there is nothing real therein; what there is there is merely the characteristics of a voice which cheats the ear consciousness. O good man! It is the same with all beings, sravakas, and pratyekabuddhas, who see fixed characteristics in all things, whereas all Bodhisattvas and others think that all things have no fixed states and that all are non-eternal, void, and all-equal and have no birth or death. Hence, the Bodhisattva sees that all things are non-eternal.
"O good man! “’There are also fixed states. How fixed? These are the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure. Where are they? There where there is Nirvana“’. [Emphasis added].
"O good man! The fruit of attainment of the srotapanna, too, is not one that is fixed. Being not fixed, only after 80,000 kalpas can he attain unsurpassed Bodhi. The state of sakrdagamin is not fixed either. Not being fixed, such a person attains unsurpassed Bodhi after 60,000 kalpas. That of anagamin is also not fixed. Not being fixed, such a one attains unsurpassed Bodhi after 60,000 kalpas. That of the arhat, too, is the same. Not being fixed, he gains the unsurpassed Bodhi mind after 20,000 kalpas. It is the same with the fruition of the pratyekabuddha. Not being fixed, he attains the unsurpassed Bodhi mind only after 10,000 kalpas.
"O good man! The Tathagata now reclines at Kusinagara between the twin sal trees, in the posture of a lion, and shows himself as entering Nirvana, and all those disciples of his who have not yet attained arhatship and all Mallas are smitten with great apprehension and sorrow. Also, devas, humans, asuras, gandharvas, garudas, kimnaras, mahoragas, and others make great offerings. All people are now ready to burn him with 1,000 “’tans“’ [one “’tan“’ = either 16, 20, or 60 feet] of finely woven woolen cloth, in which to wrap his body and lay him in a coffin of seven gems, embalmed with fragrant oil and covered over with all kinds of fragrant wood. Only two tans cannot be burnt off. One is that which is closest to the body, and the other is what is outermost. Among all the people, his remains are to be divided into eight parts. All his sravakas say that the Tathagata now enters Nirvana. Know that the Tathagata definitely does not enter Nirvana. Why not? Because the Tathagata is Eternal, and there is No Change that comes about [with Him]. Hence, the Tathagata's Nirvana is also not fixed. O good man! Know that the Tathagata, too, is not fixed. The Tathagata is no deva. Why not? There are four heavens, namely: 1) worldly heaven, 2) sentient's heaven, 3) purity heaven, and 4) meaning heaven. The worldly heaven is as in the case of the king. The sentient's heaven is like that of the four guardians of the earth up to Thoughtlessness-non-Thoughtlessness Heaven. Purity Heaven is for those from srotapanna up to pratyekabuddha. The Heaven of Meaning is for the Bodhisattva-mahasattvas of the stage of the ten abodes [“’bhumis“’?]. Why do we call the Bodhisattva of the ten abodes the Heaven of Meaning? Because he well grasps the meaning of all things. What do we mean by meaning? Meaning here betokens seeing that all things are void.
"O good man! The Tathagata is no king, nor of the class of the four guardians of the earth, nor of that of Thoughtlessness-non-Thoughtlessness Heaven, nor of the class of srotapanna, pratyekabuddha, or the Bodhisattva of the stage of the ten abodes. Thus the Tathagata is no deva. But all beings call the Tathagata the deva of devas. Hence, the Tathagata is no deva, no non-deva, no human, no non-human, no demon, no non-demon, no hell-dweller, animal or hungry ghost; nor is he no hell-dweller, animal or hungry ghost. He is no being; he is no dharma, and not no dharma. He is not matter [“’rupa“’] and not non-matter. He is not tall, not non-tall, not short, not non-short. He is non-phenomenal, not non-phenomenal, not mind, not non-mind. He is not anything defiled, nor is he non-defiled. He is uncreated, and not uncreated. He is non-Eternal, not non-Eternal, no phantom, not no-phantom. He is no name and is not no name; not fixed, and not non-fixed. He is not “is”, nor “is-not”, not a sermon, nor a non-sermon. He is no Tathagata, and not no Tathagata. Hence, the Tathagata is not one fixed.
"O good man! Why do we not call the Tathagata “worldly deva”? The worldly deva is the king. The Tathagata has for innumerable kalpas abandoned the kingly state. So he is no king. We say that he is not a non-king. He was born in the royal house of Kapilavastu. So, he is not a non-king. He is no sentient-heaven deva. For he has long since renounced any form of existence. So he is no sentient-heaven deva. He is not no sentient-heaven deva. Why not? He ascended to Tushita Heaven and came down to Jambudvipa. So the Tathagata is not no sentient-heaven deva. He is no purity deva. Why not? Because the Tathagata is no srotapanna up to pratyekabuddha. The Tathagata is not no purity deva. Why not? Because he is not one defiled by the eight things of the world [i.e. profiting; weakening; breaking up; honour; praising; slandering; pain; and pleasure] and is like the lotus, which is not tainted by muddy water. Hence, the Tathagata is not no purity deva. Also, he is no deva of meaning. Why not? Because the Tathagata is no Bodhisattva of the grade of the ten abodes. For this reason, the Tathagata is no deva of meaning. Nor is he not a deva of meaning. Why not? Because the Tathagata always practises the meanings of the 18 shunyatas [emptinesses]. Hence, the Tathagata is not no deva of meaning. “’The Tathagata is not a human. Why not? Because he has been far removed from existence as a human for innumerable kalpas. Hence, he is no human. He is no non-human. Why not? Because he was born in Kapilavastu. The Tathagata is no devil. Why not? Because he does not cause any harm to any being. Because of this, he is no devil. Also, he is not no devil. Why not? For he teaches beings, transformed as a devil. The Tathagata is also no hell-dweller, animal, or hungry ghost. Why not? Because the Tathagata has long been segregated from all evil deeds. Hence, he is no hell-dweller, animal or hungry ghost. Also, he is not no hell-dweller, animal or hungry ghost. Why not? Because the Tathagata also transforms himself into the three unfortunate realms and saves beings. Hence, he is not no hell-dweller, animal or hungry ghost. Also, he is not of beings. Why not? Because he has long since abandoned the nature of beings. Thus he is not of the beings. Nor is he a non-being. Why not? For, at times, he speaks of “’[i.e. assumes?]“’ the characteristics of a being. Hence, the Tathagata is not a non-being. The Tathagata is not any dharma. Why not? Because all existences have different characteristics. It is not thus with the Tathagata. He has one characteristic. Hence, he is no dharma and no non-dharma. Why not? Because the Tathagata is the Dharma-World. Hence, he is not any non-Dharma. The Tathagata is not a body. Why not? Even the ten categories of the body [i.e. the five sense-organs and the five sense-fields] cannot take him in “’[encompass him?]“’. That is why he is not a body. And he is not no body. Why not? Because he has on his body the 32 signs of perfection and the 80 minor marks of excellence. Hence, he is not no body. The Tathagata is not tall. Why not? Because he stands above all kinds of form. Hence, he is not what is tall. Nor is he not-tall. Why not? Because the world cannot see such a characteristic as the knot of hair on his head. For this reason, he is not not-tall. The Tathagata is not what is short. Why not? He is long segregated from the bond of arrogance. Hence, he is not what is short. Also, he is not not-short. Why not? Because he manifested before the rich man, Kokila, a body of three feet “’[i.e. the body of a child said to have been projected so as to teach Kokila]“’. Hence, he is not not-short. The Tathagata is not of the phenomenal. Because he is long segregated from any phenomenal aspect. Hence, not phenomenal. Also, he is not non-phenomenal. Why not? Because he thoroughly knows all phenomena. Hence, he is not non-phenomenal. Why not? Because he is like space. Hence, no mind. Also, he is not no-mind. Why not? Because he has the 10 mental powers “’[“’dashabala“’]“’. And also because he can thoroughly fathom what is in the mind of any being. Hence, he is not no-mind. The Tathagata is not one created. Why not? Because of the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure. For this reason, he is not one who has been created. Also, he is not one-not-created. Why not? Because he manifests himself as coming, going, sitting, lying, and in Nirvana. Hence, he is not not-created. The Tathagata is not Eternal. Why not? Because he has parts in body “’[a physical body and its parts?]“’. Hence, non-eternal. Why is he non-eternal? Because he has intellect. What is Eternal does not have intellect, as in the case of space. The Tathagata has intellect. So, he is not eternal. How is he not eternal? Because he has language and speaks. What is Eternal has no language; it is like space. The Tathagata has language. Hence, non-eternal. He has a family name. So he is non-eternal. What possesses no family name is the Eternal. Space is eternal, as it has no family name. The Tathagata has the family name of Gautama. Hence, he is not eternal. As he has parents, he is not eternal. That without parents is Eternal. Space is Eternal, so it has no parents. The Buddha has parents. Hence, non-eternal. He has four deportments “’[postures? i.e. lying, sitting, standing, walking?]“’. Hence, non-eternal. What has no four deportments is Eternal. Space is Eternal, as it has no four deportments. The Buddha has four deportments. Hence, non-eternal. What is Eternal has no “’[confined]“’ direction or place to dwell. Space is Eternal, so it has no direction or place to tell of. The Tathagata appeared in East India and lived in Sravasti and Rajagriha. Hence, he is non-eternal. For this reason, the Tathagata is not eternal. Also, he is not non-eternal. Why not? Because he has eternally cut off life. What has life is non-eternal; what has no life is Eternal. The Tathagata has no life. Hence, Eternal. What is Eternal has no family name; what has a family name is non-eternal. The Tathagata has no life and no family name. With no life and family name, he is Eternal. “’What is Eternal fills all places as in the case of space, which has no place where it does not exist. The same is the case with the Tathagata. He exists everywhere. Hence, He is Eternal.“’ “’[Emphasis added]. What is non-eternal calls this “is” and the other “not-is”. The case of the Tathagata is not so. We cannot speak here of “is” and there of “not-is”. Hence, Eternal. With the non-eternal, things at times obtain as “is” and at times as “not-is”. With what applies to the Tathagata, there is no saying, at times, of “not-is”. Hence, Eternal. What is Eternal has no name and no form. Since space is Eternal, it has no name or form. The Tathagata, too, is nameless and formless. Hence, Eternal. What is Eternal has no cause and no result. As space is Eternal, it has no cause and no result. The Tathagata, too, has no cause and no result. Hence, Eternal. What is Eternal is not related to the Three Times. It is the same with the Tathagata. He has nothing to do with the Three Times. Hence, Eternal. The Tathagata is no phantom. Why not? He is eternally segregated from any thought of deceiving. Hence, he is no phantom. Also, he is not a non-phantom. He at times splits up one body into innumerable bodies and [merges] innumerable bodies into one. He passes through mountain walls and nothing can obstruct him. He walks upon water as if on [solid] ground. He goes down into the ground as though into water, and he moves through the air as if on the ground. His body emits fire like a great fire-ball. Cloud and thunder shake, and fearful is the sound. At times, he becomes like a castle-town, a village, a house, a mountain, a river or a tree. At other times he manifests himself in a big body, or at times in one small. He becomes a male, a female, a male or female child. Hence, the Tathagata is also not a non-phantom. The Tathagata is not one fixed. Why not? Because he manifests himself here at Kusinagara between the twin sal trees as [about to] enter Nirvana. Hence, he is not fixed. “’Also, he is not non-fixed. Why not? Because he is the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure.“’ [Emphasis added]. For this reason, the Tathagata is also not non-fixed. The Tathagata is not one who leaks out defilement. Why not? Because he is segregated from the three defilements. The three defilements are: 1) defilements of the kamadhatu [Realm of Desire], except for ignorance, which are the defilements of desire, 2) defilements of the rupadhatu and arupadhatu [Realm of Form, and Realm of Formlessness], excepting ignorance, which are called “is”-defilements, 3) ignorance of the three worlds, which is the defilement of ignorance. The Tathagata is eternally segregated from these. Hence, he leaks out no defilement.
"Also, next, all beings do not see the defilement of “is”. Why do all beings not see the “is” defilement? All beings have doubts regarding things to come in the future, namely: Will they have a body or not in the future? Was there a body or not in the past? Do they have a body or not in the present life? If there is the Self, is it a form or non-form? Is it form-non-form? Is it non-form and not-non-form? Is it perception or non-perception, or perception and non-perception? Is it non-perception and non-non-perception? Does this body belong to any other person or does it not? Is it that which belongs to others or that which does not belong to others, or is it that which does not belong to others, or is it one that does not belong to others [?]. Is it one with life, but not a carnal body? Is it one that is a carnal body, but without life? Is it one that has a carnal body and life? Is it one that has no body and no life? Is it a carnal body, life, and one that is eternal? Or is it one that is non-eternal? Is it non-eternal, or eternal and non-eternal? Is it one that is non-eternal and not non-eternal? Are the body and life the works of Isvara? Or are they the work of time? Are they a work without cause? Are they the work of the “’prakriti“’ [primordial matter, or world-nature]? Are they the work of motes? Are they the work of law or non-law? Are they the work of man? Are they the work of illusion? Are they the work of father and mother? Does it [the Self?] live in one's own mind? Or does it dwell in the eye? Or does it fill the whole body? Where does it come from and where does it go to? Who is it indeed that is born and who is it who dies? Was one in the past a Brahmin, a Kshatriya, a Vaishya, or a Sudra? What caste will one gain in the future? Was my body in the past that of a male, female, or an animal? Do I commit a sin if I take life, or is it nothing of the kind? Is it a sin if I drink alcohol, or is it nothing of the kind? Is it the case that it [karma?] is one's own making, or is it what is done by others? Do I receive karmic results, or do I contract them in my carnal self? Such doubts and innumerable illusions spread over beings' minds. From these doubting views there come the six minds, which think: 1) Self definitely exists, 2) Self definitely does not exist, 3) temporary Self is the true Self, 4) no Self exists other than the temporary Self, 5) the true Self exists other than the temporary Self, 6) the Self which is the skandhas does, receives and knows. All of these are twisted views of life. The Tathagata has long since extracted the innumerable roots of views and defilements. Hence, he leaks out no defilement. O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva who practises the holy actions of Great Nirvana is able eternally to make away with all such defilements. The All-Buddha-Tathagata always practises holy actions. Hence, no defilements exist [with him].
"O good man! Common mortals cannot easily suppress the five sense-organs. So there are the three defilements, by which they are drawn to evil and go to unwelcome places. O good man! A bad horse, for example, twisted in its nature, carries a person on its back to unsafe places. It is the same with the man who does not have good control of his five sense-organs and who departs from the good Way to Nirvana and gains birth in all kinds of unfortunate realms. For example, an evil-minded elephant not yet broken in will not carry the rider to where he desires to go, and will leave the castle-town and seek the wilderness. It is the same with the person who does not have good control over the five sense-organs. This carries him away from the castle-town of Nirvana into the great stretch of wasteland of birth and death. O good man!This is as in the case of a minister of twisted mind who makes the king do evil. It is the same with the minister of twisted mind of the five sense-organs. He always teaches people to do innumerable evil things. O good man! This is similar to a bad son, who, if not taught by teachers, elders and parents, will always commit evil deeds. So do things obtain with one who does not have control over the five sense-organs. Such a person does not give ear to the good injunctions of teachers and elders, and there is no end of evil he will not do. O good man! Common mortals do not have control over their five sense-organs and always suffer from the robbers of hell, animals, and hungry ghosts. Also, the [manifold] harm of the malignant robbers extends even to good people. O good man! As common mortals do not have control over the five sense-organs, the storms of the five dusts [i.e. of the five sense-fields] overtake them. For“’ “’example, if pasture cows are not well guarded, they will ravage the seedlings and plants that have been cultivated. Common mortals do not have control over their five desires and suffer variously.
"O good man! When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises Great Nirvana and holy actions, he always guards his five sense-organs well. He fears greed, anger, ignorance, arrogance and jealousy, because he has to arrive at all good dharmas. O good man! One who guards well the five sense-organs guards well the mind. One who guards well the mind guards well the five sense-organs. For example, when men guard the king, the land is well protected. One who protects the land well guards the king. It is the same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. On hearing this Great Nirvana Sutra, one gains Wisdom. Through Wisdom, one gains the exclusive mind. If the five sense-organs are loose-set, the mind ceases to act. Why? Because of the Wisdom of mindfulness. O good man! This is as in the case of the pastor [pasture-keeper?] who checks his cows from going east and west and damaging the crops. It is the same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. Working up mindfulness Wisdom, he guards the five sense-organs, so that they will not get out of control. His mindfulness Wisdom sees no form of Self, what comes out of Self, beings or what they enjoy. He sees all things as when he sees “’Dharmata“’ [Essence of Reality], and what he sees is all like the earth, stones, tiles, and gravel. For example, a house comes about by various combinations of elements and not by any fixed nature of its own. He sees that all beings are no other than combinations of the four great elements and the five skandhas and that they have no fixed nature. As there is no fixed nature, the Bodhisattva does not greedily cling. All common mortals think that they exist. So they have the worry of defilement. When the Bodhisattva-mahasattva practises Great Nirvana and has mindfulness Wisdom, he does not cling to any being. Also, next, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva, practising the Great Nirvana Sutra, does not cling to any being or the diverse external forms of things. O good man! For example, a painter uses various colours and paints pictures of men, women, cows, horses, etc. Common mortals, devoid of intelligence, see these and take them to be [real] men, women, etc. But the painter knows that they are not men and women. It is the same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. In the various aspects of things, he sees only the aspect, but never many forms of beings, right to the end. Because he has mindfulness Wisdom. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva, as he practises Great Nirvana, might see a beautiful woman. But, to the end, he does not gain a clinging thought. Why not? Since he thoroughly looks into what meets his eye. O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva knows that there resides no pleasure in the five desires and that joy never endures [there]. This is like a dog that bites at a dead bone; like a man holding fire against the wind; a cask of venomous serpents gained in a dream; fruit-trees on the wayside which easily get struck by many people; a piece of meat for which many birds compete; foam on water; the warp of a woven piece of cloth which has now come to an end; a prisoner having to go to a prison citadel - or whatever is temporary and cannot endure long. Thus, desires are meditated upon and [it is seen] that there is much that is wrong.
"Also, next, the Bodhisattva meditates on all beings. Connected with colour, smell, taste and touch, there has always been worry for innumerable kalpas. The size of the bodies and bones which each being heaps up during a kalpa is as great as Vipula Hill in Rajagriha; the milk taken is as much as the water of the four seas. And the blood shed is much more than this. The tears shed by parents, brothers, wife, children and relatives at the moment of death is more than the waters of the four oceans. We could cut all the plants of the earth and make counting sticks of an inch long and count the number of parents, and yet we would not be able to reach the end of counting. It is not possible fully to count the sorrows experienced in the realms of hell, animals, and hungry ghosts. We could cut the great earth into pieces as small as dates. Yet birth and death proceed unendingly and cannot be counted. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva meditates deeply on the unending sorrows which all beings experience in life because of desires. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva does not lose [his] mindfulness Wisdom, because of the sorrows of birth and death. O good man! As an example: people fill an area of 25 square “’lis“’ [1,894 ft]. The king commands a minister: “Carry a pot full of oil, go through the crowd, but do not let a drop fall to the ground. If a drop does fall, you will forfeit your life.” Also, a man follows behind with an unsheathed sword, to frighten him. The minister, strictly observing the royal injunction, passes through the great crowd of people. When he sees the objects of the five desires, he always says to himself: “If I am indolent and cleave to wrong desires, I shall certainly drop what I am holding in my hands and lose my life.” Due to this fear, the man does not spill even a single drop of oil.“’ “’It is the same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. Amidst birth and death, he does not lose [his] mindfulness Wisdom. Not losing this, his mind does not greedily adhere to the five desires, even when he sees them. He sees a pure colour, but no colour appears there; what he sees is a scene of suffering. This extends down to consciousness. He does not see birth, extinction, or cause. What he sees is a phase in the process of elements conjoining. The five sense-organs of the Bodhisattva are pure. As his sense-organs are pure, those sense-organs are fully protected. The sense-organs of common mortals are not pure. So upholding [of moral purity] cannot proceed well. Therefore, we say that the root secretes defilement. With the Bodhisattva, such secretions are eternally done away with. So we speak of "non-secretion". With the Tathagata, this [secretion of defilement] has been eternally excised. Hence, non-secretion.
"Also, next, O good man! There is a segregation of secretion. The Bodhisattva wishes to substantiate the Buddha Realm of unsurpassed amrta [immortality] and abandons evil secretions. How does he segregate [them]? He thoroughly practises the Great Nirvana Sutra, writes, copies, upholds, recites and expounds it, and thinks over its meaning. This is segregation. Why? O good man! I have not encountered a case of the 12 types of sutra, as with this vaipulya Great Nirvana Sutra, where one so thoroughly segregates oneself from evil secretions. O good man! As an illustration: a learned teacher teaches his disciples. One amongst them learns well what is taught and is not evil in mind. It is the same with the Bodhisattva who practises the all-wonderful Sutra of Great Nirvana and who has no evil in his mind. O good man! For example, there is a wonderful charm. Once employed, it renders one immune to poison for 20 years, and a serpent cannot sting one. If one recites the charm, one will have no occasion to suffer from it [i.e. any poison] for the duration of one's life. It is the same with this Great Nirvana Sutra. If one once gives ear to it, for seven kalpas to come one will not fall into the unfortunate realms. If one copies, recites, expounds it, and meditates on its meaning, one will unfailingly attain unsurpassed Enlightenment. This is like the case of a Chakravartin who arrives at amrta [immortality] when he sees the pure state of the Buddha-Nature. O good man! There are such innumerable virtues in this Great Nirvana. O good man! Anyone who copies, recites, expounds and explains it to others, and meditates on the meaning is, you should know, my true disciple. And he follows my Way well. This is what I see and what I pray for. Such a person clearly knows that I do not enter Nirvana. Thus, in all places where such a person lives, such as a castle-town, village, mountain, forest, field, house, farmhouse or palace, I shall always find myself and I shall not move. I always receive offerings from such a person. I shall become a bhiksu, bhiksuni, upasaka, upasika, Brahmin, Brahmacarin or a poor alms-beggar. How can I get this person to know that the Tathagata receives offerings from him? O good man! This person might see, at night, a Buddha statue in a dream, or the forms of all devas, sramanas, kings, a Chakravartin, lion-king, lotus flower, or udumbara; or he might see a big mountain, a great stretch of sea-water, the sun or moon, a white elephant, a white horse, or the parents. He gains flowers or fruit, or such precious things as gold, silver, beryl, crystal, or the five kinds of cow-product. Know that the Tathagata at [such] times receives what is offered to him. The person awakes, feels happy, and receives what he needs. He thinks no evil and practises good. O good man! This Great Nirvana thoroughly accomplishes such innumerable asamkhyas of all-wonderful virtues. O good man! Believe now what I say. All good men and women desire to see me, to respect me, to see me in “’Dharmata“’ [the Essence of Reality], to gain the Void Samadhi, to see the Real Nature, to practise the “’surangama-samadhi“’, “’simharaja-samadhi“’, and to destroy the eight Maras. By the eight Maras is meant the so-called four Maras, and the non-Eternal, non-Bliss, non-Self, and the non-Pure. Any person who desires to be blessed with the bliss of heaven should go and befriend and associate with those who possess, copy, recite, explain to others, and meditate on the meaning of the Great Nirvana Sutra, ask, make offerings, respect, praise wash the hands and feet, set up the seat, have the four things well supplied, so that nothing is lacking. If such people come from far-distant places, go 10 yojanas and receive them. Because of this sutra, give whatever is precious and welcome any such people. If one does not have any such things to offer, sell yourself. Why? Because it is hard to encounter this sutra, much harder than encountering the udumbara.
"O good man! I recall to myself: Innumerable, boundless nayutas of kalpas past, when there was a world called “saha”, there was a Buddha-World-Honoured One named Tathagata Shakyamuni, the Alms-Deserving, the All-Enlightened One, the All-Accomplished One, the Well-Gone, the All-Knower, the Unsurpassed One, the Best Trainer, the Teacher-of-Gods-and-Humans, and the Buddha-World-Honoured One. For the sake of all people, he delivered the sermon of the Great Nirvana Sutra. I, at that time, heard from a good friend that that Buddha would, for the sake of all people, deliver the sermon of the Great Nirvana Sutra. On hearing this, joy welled up within me. I desired to make offerings, but I was so poor that I could not offer anything. So I went round, intending to sell myself. But I was so sterile in my fortune that I could not sell [i.e. could not find a buyer]. I was on my way home, when I met a man. I said: “I intend to sell myself. Will you not buy me?” The man said: “I don't have anyone at home who can stand the work. If you can, I shall certainly buy you.” I asked: “What is this work which no one can stand?” The man replied: “I have a bad disease. A good doctor tells me that I have to take three liangs [i.e. a Chinese unit of weight] of human flesh a day. If you can supply me with three liangs of human flesh every day, I shall give you five gold coins.” On hearing this, I greatly rejoiced and said: “Give me the money, and in addition seven days. Having done what I desire to do, I shall come back and do what I must do.” The man said: “Not seven, but one day, to be clear.” O good man! I then took the money, went back, went to the Buddha, prostrated myself on the ground, offered what I had and, later, with my whole heart, listened to this sutra. At that time I was dull. Though I heard this sutra, I could only uphold [i.e. remember? practise?] one gatha:
“The Tathagata enters Nirvana
And eternally cuts off birth and death.
If one listens with a full heart,
One will gain unending bliss.”
"Having gained this gatha, I went to the house of the sick person. O good man! I then daily gave him three liangs of flesh. Because of the virtue of meditating on the gatha, I had no pain. Not a day did I fail [to give my flesh], and a month passed. O good man! As a result of this, the disease was cured. I regained the former state of my body and had no wounds. With my body fully in order, I aspired to unsurpassed Bodhi. The power of a single gatha is such. How much more would it have been if I had fully upheld and recited this sutra? Seeing such virtue in this sutra, my aspiration doubled [and I prayed]: “I pray that in days to come I shall attain Bodhi and be called Shakyamuni.” O good man! Due to this single gatha I am now with this congregation, fully addressing gods and men. O good man! Thus is this Great Nirvana Sutra so utterly wonderful. It is perfect in countless virtues. This is none other than the all-wonderful, closely-guarded store of all Buddhas. For this reason, anyone who uphold this well eliminates hateful defilements. What do I mean by evil? This is none but the evil elephant, the evil horse, the evil cow, the evil dog, and the land where venomous snakes live, the land of thorns, precipices, precipitous banks, rushing waters, whirlpools, evil people, evil lands, evil castles, evil houses, evil friends and others. If all such become the cause of defilement-secretions, the Bodhisattva forsakes them. If not, he does not forsake them. If the secretions increase, he forsakes them; if not, he does not. If evil dharmas arise, he forsakes them. If any good dharmas arise, he does not forsake them. What is meant by “forsaking”? This means not possessing the sword or staff, but with right Wisdom and means always forsaking such. This is having right Wisdom and forsaking. To arrive at Good Dharma, one forsakes what is evil. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva meditates on his own self [ego] and thinks that it is like an illness, the pox, a carbuncle, an enemy, the arrow that hits a man and gets into his body, that this is a great house of suffering, and that all are the roots of all good and evil. Although this body is so impure, the Bodhisattva-mahasattva carefully looks after and nourishes it. Why? It is not to begrudge one's own body, but to care for Good Dharma. This is for the sake of Nirvana, not for birth and death. It is for the sake of the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure. It is not [for] the non-Eternal, non-Bliss, non-Self, and the non-Pure. It is for the sake of Enlightenment, but not for “is” existence. It is for the one vehicle [“’ekayana“’], not for the three vehicles [“’triyana“’]. It is to gain the body of the 32 signs of perfection and the 80 minor marks of excellence, not for the body of Thoughtlessness-non-Thoughtlessness. It is for the sake of the King of the Dharma-Wheel, not for the body of a Chakravartin. O good man! The Bodhisattva-mahasattva should always guard his self. Why? If not, life will not be safe. If life is not whole, he cannot copy, uphold, recite, explain widely to others, and meditate on the signification of this sutra. For this reason, the Bodhisattva must protect his own self well. That is why the Bodhisattva can truly segregate his own self from all evil secretions. O good man! One who desires to crosss water takes care of the ship or raft. One who is travelling well looks after good horses. The farmer who cares for his seedlings attends to dung and manure. To protect oneself from scorpion poison, once takes care of venomous serpents. For the safety of man and treasure, one keeps candalas. To overcome robbers, one employs strong soldiers. One protects the fire when cold bears down upon one, and a leprous patient seeks poisonous medicine. It is the same with the Bodhisattva. He knows that this body is full of impurities. But to uphold the Great Nirvana Sutra, he thoroughly aids and protects [his body], and does not allow its strength to diminish. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva sees both the evil elephant and the evil friend as one and not two. Why so? Because both destroy one's own self. The Bodhisattva never fears the evil elephant, but fears the evil friend. Why? The evil elephant only harms the body, not the mind. The evil friend destroys both. The evil elephant destroys only one single body, but the evil friend destroys innumerable good bodies and innumerable good minds [i.e. good states of mind]. The evil elephant only destroys the impure and foul-smelling body, but the friend who is bad destroys the pure body and the pure mind. This evil elephant only destroys this carnal body, but the friend who is bad destroys [i.e. makes one lose] the Dharma Body. Even when one is killed by an evil elephant, one does not fall into the three unfortunate realms. But when one is killed by a friend who is bad, one falls into the three unfortunate realms. The evil elephant is only the enemy of the carnal body, but the evil friend is the enemy of Wonderful Dharma. For this reason, the Bodhisattva must always segregate himself from evil friends. The common mortal does not segregate himself from such secretions. So these secretions come about. As the Bodhisattva makes away with these, there is no secretion [of defilement] with him. Acting thus, there is no secretion with the Bodhisattva. How could there be with the Tathagata? For this reason, he does not secrete defilement.
"How do we come into the vicinity of the secretions? All common mortals receive clothing, food, bedding and medicine. They receive all of these for the ease of body and mind. They do various evil things, do not know what is wrong, and advance towards the three unfortunate realms. Hence, we say that there is secretion. The Bodhisattva, since he sees, keeps himself away from such things. When a robe is offered, he receives it. He does this not for the body, but for Dharma. He has no arrogance. His mind is always in a surrendering mood. It is not for adornment, but out of a feeling of shame. It [i.e. the robe] keeps out the cold and heat, bad wind, bad rain, bad worms, mosquitoes, gadflies, flies, fleas and scorpions. He receives food and drink, but there is no greed there. He does this not for himself, but for the good of Dharma; not for the carnal body, but for the good of all beings; not out of pride, but for physical strength; not out of malignancy or to harm others, but out of hunger and to cure the pox. He gains good food, but does not have a greedy mind. He might receive a house. But the same is the case. No defilement of greed ever dwells in his mind. For the sake of the house of Enlightenment, he rejects the robber of defilement. In order to keep away bad winds and rain, he receives a house. One who receives does not have a greedy mind. This is only [done] for Wonderful Dharma. It is not [done] for life, but for Eternal Life. O good man! A person suffering from the pox smears butter and roasted barley-flour on it. For this reason, he covers it with his robe. As the pus and blood come out, he applies butter and roasted barley-flour. To cure the pox, one employs medicine. To guard against evil winds, one lives deep inside a house. It is the same with the Bodhisattva-mahasattva. He sees the pox[-like] body. So he covers it with clothing. As things leak out from the nine holes [i.e. the nine outlets in the human body], he takes food and drink. On account of the bad wind and rain, he receives a house. When the four poisons appear, one seeks a doctor's medicine. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva receives the four kinds of offerings. This is for the sake of Enlightenment, not life. Why? The Bodhisattva-mahasattva thinks: “If I do not receive these four things, my body will wear out and will not be strong. If it is not strong enough, it cannot stand the suffering, and one cannot practise Wonderful Dharma.” If one can thoroughly bear down on the suffering, one can easily practise innumerable good things. If one cannot stand the suffering, anger raises its head as [various] sufferings press down upon one, and on encountering happiness, a mind of greed arises. One looks for happiness. If it does not come, ignorance raises its head. Because of this, the common mortal generates a secreting mind in the face of the four offerings. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva meditates well and does not engender any secretion. So we say that the Bodhisattva does not secrete [defilement]. How could one say that the Tathagata is one who secretes? For this reason, we do not call the Tathagata one who secretes.
"Also, next, O good man! All common mortals protect their body and mind. Yet they have the three evil sensings [?]. Thus, though they may well shake off defilements and gain the place of Thoughtlessness-non-Thoughtlessness, they fall back and gain the three unfortunate realms.
"O good man! There is, for example, a man who desires to cross a great sea and who has almost reached the other shore, when he drowns and dies. So do things go with the common mortal. He means to cross the three worlds, but falls back into the three unfortunate realms. Why? Because there is no good sensing [with him].
"What is “good sensing”? It is none other than the six thinkings. The good mind of the common mortal is lowly; evil burns [within him]. When the good mind weakens, the mind of Wisdom weakens. When the good mind is in a weak state, secretions increase. The sense-organ of the eye of the Bodhisattva-mahasattva is pure, and it sees the evils of the three sensings. He knows that these three sensings possess variegated worries and that they always become for beings the enemies of the three vehicles. The workings of the three sensings bar an innumerable number of common mortals and beings from encountering the Buddha-Nature. For innumerable kalpas, they abide in an upside-down state of mind and say that the Buddha-World-Honoured One has nothing of the Eternal, Bliss, and the Self, but only Pureness, and that the Tathagata enters Nirvana for good. All beings have none of the Eternal, Bliss, Self, and the Pure. [But] with an upside-down mind, they say that they are the Eternal, Bliss, the Self, and the Pure. Truth to tell, they do not have three vehicles, but with their upside-down minds they say that there are the three vehicles. The Way of One Truth is true and is not false. Abiding in an upside-down state of mind, they say that there is no oneness of Truth. These three evil sensings are always reproached by all Buddhas and Bodhisattvas. These three sensings always harm oneself and also others. Around all these three sensings always foregather all evils in a train and become the three fetters which chain beings to birth and death. The Bodhisattva-mahasattva always views the three sensings thus. On occasion, the Bodhisattva has the sensing of desire, but is silent and does not respond. For example, this is like a person of right and pure mind who refuses all that is foul and impure. It is like a burning, hot iron ball, which no one can indeed grasp hold of. It is like the Brahmin, who will not eat beef, like a person who is well fed and who will not take bad food, or a chakravartin who will not share his seat with a candala. Thus the Bodhisattva-mahasattva despises the three sensings and does not take [what is impure]. The case is thus. Why? The Bodhisattva thinks: “All beings know me to be a good field of weal. How can I receive this evil thing? If I gain an evil sensing, I cannot be a field of weal to beings. I myself do not say that I am a good field of weal. But beings see me and say that I am so. If I expose myself to a bad sensing, this will cheat beings. In days past I repeated birth and death over innumerable kalpas in the three unfortunate realms because of cheating. If I receive the offerings of the faithful with an evil mind, all devas and the rishis with the five divine powers will know and reproach me. If I receive the offerings of the faithful, when I myself have evil sensings, this will cut short or annul the recompense due to the one who gives. If I receive the offerings of a danapati, I will purchase regret. Like a loving child, all danapatis always look up to me. How can I cheat them and buy regret? Why? Because this annuls or makes small the recompense. Or one might always say that one has renounced home. Now, the sramana must not do evil. If evil is done, there can be no priesthood. With no oneness, they are not sramanas. I have left my parents, brothers, sisters, wife and child, relatives and teachers, and practised Bodhi. When one practises all the sensings, there can be no occasion to practise the non-good sensings. For example, a person goes into the sea to gain gems. This is like picking up crystal instead of pearl, or throwing away all-wonderful music and playing in dung, or abandoning heavenly women to love menial servants, or abandoning a vessel of gold to take up an earthenware bowl, or abandoning ambrosia [“’amrta“’] and partaking of poison, or abandoning the familiar, old, wise and good doctor, but accepting one who bears one ill will, or geting medicine and trying to cure oneself by one's own hand. The case is the same with me. Abandoning the ambrosial taste of Dharma of the great teacher, Tathagata-World-Honoured One, I partake of various evil sensings from Mara. It is hard to be born a human. This can be compared to the coming into bloom of the udumbara flower. But now I have gained it [i.e. the human state]. It is hard to meet the Tathagata, but now I have met him. It is hard to see and hear the pristine treasure of Dharma, but I now hear it. This is like a blind tortoise chancing to hit the hole in a piece of floating wood. Life is much more fleeting than the rushing water of a mountain stream. One lives today, but one cannot be sure of the morrow. How can one abandon one's mind to what is wrong? The prime of life slips away as swiftly as a running horse. How can one depend on [what is transient] and be arrogant? It is like the situation where a devil sits in wait of a man's performing wrong actions. It is the same with the devils of the four great elements. These always come and try to seek out some fault with one. How can one give occasion to evil sensings? For example, this is as in the case of a crumbling house which is about to fall down. Life, too, is the same. How can one do evil? I am a sramana. What a sramana does is awaken good. If I awaken to non-good, how can I be called a sramana? I am one who has renounced the world. The world-fleeing sramana is one who follows the path of good. Should I now perform evil, how could I be called a world-fleeing sramana? I am now a true Brahmin. A Brahmin is one who practises pure actions. If I now commit impure acts and evil sensings, how can I be called a Brahmin? I am of the great clan of the Kshatriyas. The Kshatriyas defeat the enemy. If I now fail to defeat the enemies of evil, how can I be worthy of the name of Kshatriya? I am now a bhiksu. A bhiksu is a person who destroys defilement. If I cannot now destroy the evil sensing of defilement, how am I now worthy of the name of bhiksu? There are six things which it is difficult to encounter. I have now gained these. How can I allow the occasion to arise where evil sensings enter my mind? What are these six? The first is that it is difficult to be born into the world where the Buddha is present. The second is that it is difficult to hear Wonderful Dharma. The third is that it is difficult to call forth a fearing mind. The fourth is that one cannot easily gain birth in the Middle Country [“’madhyadesa“’]. The fifth is that it is difficult to be born as a human. The sixth is that it is difficult to have perfect and complete sense-organs. These six things are thus difficult to gain. And now I possess these. For this reason, I must not give occasion for evil sensings to arise. The Bodhisattva, then, practising the Great Nirvana Sutra, always meditates on all these evil minds [i.e. evil states of mind]. All beings fail to see the ills of such evil minds. They thus gain the three sensings and so engender the secretions. The Bodhisattva sees these, does not cling to them, abandons them, and does not protect them. He allows the Noble Eightfold Path to push them away, to kill them and cut them off. Hence the Bodhisattva has no occasion to be subject to the secretions. How could one say that the Tathagata possesses any such? For this reason, the Tathagata-World-Honoured One does not belong to the class of those who have the secretions of defilement.